It was always going to be a tough ask for Llanelli Town on their visit to Park Hall in the fourth round of the JD Welsh cup to take on the triple holders of the trophy as well as being runaway undefeated leaders of the Welsh Premier League. An d their worst nightmares were realised as they were comprehensively outplayed by their opponents, although their cause was not helped by the absence of six players, with two being cup-tied, while the rest were absent through unavailability, illness and injury.
As a result, the bench was looking somewhat bare, with Luke Morgan, Leon Martin and 16 year-old Iwan McNab named as the substitutes, although the way the tie panned out, even with the presence of the missing players the result would not have been that much different. The Saints stroked the ball about with elegant ease, and the Reds` defence was hard pressed to contain them from the outset, with Richard Lewis, in particular, having a torrid time when faced with the dual threat of Ryan Pryce and James Mullan, although to be fair he was not helped by some ineffective covering by his colleagues.
After an early chance for the giant home striker, Scott Quigley, which saw lift his finish over the top from a Chris Seargeant cross, he made amends by opening the scoring after 10 minutes, powering his header past Craig Morris following a flighted ball by Adrian Cieslewicz, and four minutes later notched his brace, turning home a low cross by Pryce into the middle. The Reds` keeper was in for a busy afternoon, and it was thanks in a large part to his efforts that the final tally was not greater as he pulled off a string of excellent saves.
Two came in quick succession, when he pushed clear a dangerous cross from Mullan before diverting a Cieslewicz effort around the upright. The visitors` goal survived another close call when an attempted clearance only found Mullan who directed the ball across the face of the net which Quigley just failed to meet. Robert Thomas brought off a saving tackle on the Saints` striker in the box when Jon Routledge set up the chance, before the Reds finally launched an attack of their own with Lee Trundle finding Jordan Follows, and he forced goalkeeper Paul Harrison to push his shot around the post.
Lewis fired just wide from distance when the Reds broke again, but it was the home side who extended their lead on 34 minutes following another Pryce cross which found Mullan in space, and he made no mistake with his finish. It was one-way traffic towards the Reds` goal, with Aeron Edwards curling his effort just wide from an assist by Mullan, while Morris did well again to direct the ball away from Quigley when a cross came into the goalmouth.
Three down at the break and already facing an uphill battle, the visitors made an early second half change with Morgan replacing Lewis and Thomas taking over at full back, and to their credit, they were far more positive in the second period, with Jordan Davies stinging the hands of Harrison with a fiercely struck shot which he parried and eventually gathered safely.
Trundle, who was being kept relatively quiet by the close attentions of the home defenders and was living off scraps of possession, managed to release Liam Samuel whose run took him into the box where he went down under a challenge, but referee Kris Hames waved play on.
When the Reds launched another foray, Trundle found Follows whose initial shot was blocked close to goal, and when he met the rebound, it was hacked off the line. This was about the closest they achieved to a breakthrough, and their opponents stretched the lead even further on 63 minutes when Mullan was brought down in the area by a challenge from Thomas leading to the award of a penalty, which Quigley duly netted to complete his hat-trick.
He went close again, this time striking the bar with his attempt, before the Saints struck again in the 72nd minute through Cieslewicz who met a delivery at the far post and volley superbly across Morris into the far corner. Samuel was replaced by young McNab on 73 minutes, and he displayed some neat touches during his time on the field.
Quigley headed wide from a decent position from a Seargeant delivery, before six minutes from time the Saints struck again for their sixth though Simon Spender when Alex Darlington laid on the chance. The Reds` miserable afternoon was compounded in stoppage time when Quigley got his fourth and his side`s seventh following yet another through ball past the flagging visitors` rearguard.
A harsh lesson for the Reds who were taken apart by superb opponents, and on this evidence it is hard to envisage any side coming close to a win against them as they appear to have few chinks in their armour.
THE NEW SAINTS; Harrison ©; Pryce; Marriott (Spender, 79); Saunders; Rawlinson; Routledge; Edwards (Darlington, 66); Seargeant; Cieslewicz (Brabbel, 75); Quigley; Mullan; Subs. not used; Wicherley; Draper.
LLANELLI TOWN; Morris; Graves; Lewis (Morgan, 52); R. Thomas; C. Thomas; Bevan ©; Samuel (McNab, 73); Davies; Follows; Trundle; R. Jones; Sub. not used; Martin.
SCORERS; The New Saints – Quigley; 10, 14, 63(P); 90 + 2. Mullan,34; Cieslewicz, 72; Spender, 84.
YELLOW CARD; Llanelli Town – R. Thomas.
REFEREE; Kris Hames (Aberdare).
The Reds are back in league action on Friday evening when they entertain AFC Llwydcoed at Stebonheath with a 7.30 p.m. kick off.
When the two sides met in the league back in September, a Lee Trundle hat-trick scored in three minutes of stoppage time edged the Reds to a 5-2 win. Without the charismatic “Magic Daps” when the teams clashed in the quarter-final of the League Cup, the home side struggled to establish any pattern to their play, resulting in a shapeless contest with their opponents not much better, and summed up by the respective goalkeepers earning the plaudits.
Luke Jones came in to the starting line-up in the absence of Trundle, and justified his inclusion by opening the scoring just before the half hour, before Jordan Follows finally wrapped up matters in second half stoppage time. The visitors caused the Reds` rearguard plenty of problems throughout, with Luke Lewis in particular a constant threat, although it was Dane Griffiths who had an initial chance when Dafydd Brewer sent him though the middle and into the area, but he delayed his final effort too long and was eventually crowded out.
Abergavenny keeper, Tom Indge, just beat Jones to the ball when Jordan Davies provided the pass, while at the other end Chris Thomas brought off a saving tackle on Jordan Harford from a Griffiths assist. Indge was fortunate when his attempted clearance only found Richard Lewis, but his shot was deflected for a corner. Lee Bevan did well to quickly affect a vital block when Lewis met a ball in the box, before Craig Morris brought off a brilliant save to divert a shot arrowed towards the bottom corner from Lewis around the post.
The hosts had barely offered a worthwhile threat on their opponents goal, but against the run of play opened the scoring when Jones ghosted into the near post unnoticed to tuck away a ball driven in by Lewis after 29 minutes. Abergavenny were then forced into a change when Griffiths, who had suffered an earlier knock, was replaced by Craig Norman, but despite this disruption, they continued to enjoy the better of the possession but were woefully lacking in the final third, seldom testing Morris to any great extent.
With the home side narrowly ahead going into the second period, both teams made changes, with Jamie Laurent replacing Harford for the visitors, while Jones, still not fully fit, was replaced by Liam Samuel. Norman fired a free kick from just outside the box narrowly off target, before the Reds made another change with Ross Jones coming on for Anthony Finselbach.
A surging run by Robert Thomas from his own half culminated in him firing fractionally wide of the visitors` goal, and when Joe Clarke found Follows wide on the left, his attempted ball across to Samuel was cut out. Clarke was then culpable of allowing a cross from Aaron Norman to reach Brewer, and it again took a great save by Morris to prevent his strike from finding the net.
A similar scenario then occurred at the opposite end with Indge beating clear a fiercely struck Samuel effort. Another chance fell to Follows when Clarke set him up, but he directed his finish straight at the keeper, while shortly after he again failed to take advantage when put through on goal.
With the tie now in stoppage time, Follows made up for his earlier lapses by notching the Reds` second with the Abergavenny defence hopelessly outnumbered, and the visitors` afternoon was compounded when they were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of Brett Anderson by referee Leigh Jones just before the final whistle, to add to the nine yellow cards already shown to both sides.
A far from convincing display by the Reds, but who nevertheless now join Bridgend Street, Caerau Ely and Haverfordwest County in the semi-finals of the competition.
LLANELLI TOWN; Morris; Graves; R. Thomas; Finselbach (R. Jones, 67); C. Thomas; Bevan ©;
Clarke; Davies; L. Jones (Samuel, 55); Follows; Lewis (Silcox, 90+5);
Subs, not used; Morgan; A. Jones.
ABERGAVENNY TOWN; Indge; Anderson; Evans; Brewer ©; Bull; Jones; A. Norman; Harford (Laurent, 52); Griffiths (C. Norman, 31); Lewis; Hitchcock; Subs. not used; Davies; Feeley; Aurelius (GK).
SCORERS; Llanelli Town – L. Jones, 29; Follows, 90+3.
YELLOW CARDS; Llanelli Town – Clarke; C. Thomas; Bevan; Davies.
Abergavenny Town – Lewis; C. Norman; Brewer; Indge; Anderson.
RED CARD; Abergavenny Town – Anderson.
REFEREE; Leigh Jones (Treharris).
The Reds have a vital league game next Saturday at Stebonheath with the visit of AFC Porth who currently are third in the table. Kick off is at 2 p.m.